Rona Ambrose supports dropping same-sex marriage ban from Conservative policy

The Conservative Party's interim leader says she would support removing the Tories' same-sex marriage ban from its official policy if it comes up at the party's convention in Vancouver in May.

Interim Conservative leader would back motion at party's May policy convention in Vancouver

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose says she would back a motion to strike down the party's ban on same-sex marriage, if it's approved for discussion at the upcoming national convention in Vancouver. LGBTory, a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Conservatives, is pushing for the policy shift. (Canadian Press)

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose says she backs a call for removal of the long-standing same-sex marriage ban from official Tory policy, her latest move to reshape the party in the post-Stephen Harper era.

"I've been clear for a long time that the Conservative Party welcomes all conservatives, regardless of sexual orientation. If you believe in smaller government, lower taxes, balanced budgets and individual freedom, we want you in our party," Ambrose said in a statement to CBC News.

A group of Alberta Tories adopted a resolution over the weekend calling for the two lines that deal with same-sex marriage to be deleted from the Conservative Party's social policy at its upcoming national convention in Vancouver.

Existing Conservative policy — which was reaffirmed at the party's last convention in 2013 — says Parliament, not the courts, should determine the definition of marriage and that the party supports legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

"I was happy to see our Alberta policy congress vote in huge numbers in that spirit this past weekend. If it's something that makes it to our policy convention floor, I'll be happy to vote the same way," Ambrose said.

Would-be Tory voters turned off by ban

A group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Conservatives wrote to the Edmonton-area MP earlier this month, asking her to support their efforts to strike down the ban at the Vancouver convention.

"This policy is a significant obstacle to the acceptance of the Conservative message by voters who would otherwise be attracted to the party's stance on economic, security, and foreign policy issues," signatories from the group LGBTory Rainbow Conservatives wrote to Ambrose.

"Most of us have had encounters with people for whom the Conservative vision resonates strongly but who are repelled by a social-conservative policy on same-sex marriage."

The message seems to have resonated with the Tory leader, who, in just a few short months at the helm, has dropped the party's opposition to an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and the long-form census, among other policy shifts.

But as Stephanie Levitz of The Canadian Press reported Tuesday, the Alberta motion and Ambrose's support for the change is just the first step in getting the ban dropped as there's no guarantee that it will be part of the suite of policy options Conservatives will consider this spring in Vancouver.

It's up to the party's national executive to determine what motions will be debated at the meeting, a process that often takes into account how many members support a particular position.

Calgary MP Michelle Rempel told Levitiz she was among those who voted in favour of the Alberta resolution and that she was glad to see the motion get broad support.

"It's a very positive thing and something that's been very positively accepted," Rempel said. "There is a quite a bit of interest in this particular resolution and I'd anticipate other riding associations across the country will try to submit similar resolutions or support one single one going to the floor."

The Conservative Party's national policy convention will be held from May 26 to 28. 


John Paul Tasker

Senior reporter

J.P. Tasker is a journalist in CBC's parliamentary bureau who reports for digital, radio and television. He is also a regular panellist on CBC News Network's Power & Politics. He covers the Conservative Party, Canada-U.S. relations, Crown-Indigenous affairs, climate change, health policy and the Senate. You can send story ideas and tips to J.P. at john.tasker@cbc.ca.

With files from The Canadian Press